…the lightest of things must appear eventually

A heavy fog hung across the city for several days. This morning, as the sun rose, suddenly the sky was pale blue openness edged with apricot. Sparkling frost on roofs, twigs crystalline with ice, and the lacinato kale in the garden drooping and white as quartz.

The juncos in the yard seem to move more quickly, pecking at seeds on the ground with the larger males chasing away the smaller males.  Little black-hooded birds darting forward along the wet terrace, stopping, turning side to side, pecking like sewing machines. Here and there suddenly leaping, revealing flashes of white tail feathers with a fan-like flick. Vascular shadows of branches stretched long across crunchy lawns of the neighborhood beneath bare trees. Every living thing meets the cold air and winter sunlight as one community.


In the afternoon, sunlight streaked into the coffeehouse, slanting, clear, with the enlivening directionality of winter light. Sofa arms, tabletops, hair, hands and the wooden sides of chairs all gilded precious in its path, without differentiation.

A little girl, maybe five, was sitting nearby with her granddad, a patient friendly man in his early seventies. She asked him for a paper towel, he pointed to a table nearby. Tall for her age, dressed neatly, long hair tied back, looking like mini version of herself fifteen years hence, she walked slowly scuffing her red shoes along the dark wooden floor. Humming, joyful of her outing, she reached carefully up into the basket of neatly stacked paper towels.

Very slowly still humming she pulled one out but several others slid along with it, falling, unfolding and spreading open. One fell down into a tub of bussed cups and plates.

Gentle like a cat walking on a mantelpiece amongst ornaments, she put the extra towels back, including the one in the used dishes. She patiently reached up at full arms length, draping and folding them after a fashion, one by one back into the basket, continuing to hum. Then celebratory, she skipped  back to the table with her chosen paper towel. Someone waiting behind her then reached in to the basket, careful to avoid the top paper towels.

If it weren’t for a mild wind blowing from the gorge in the east the fog would have sealed the entire day in grey stasis. A cold easterly facilitates the sun’s warmth here in the western valley. Life, never fixed like words/names and socially allocated identities but ever moving, full and fertile, with turns and transformations always suffused with the new and unexpected.

Water eventually finds the dry seed, light the darkened thoughts, sad days nourish insight. Thanks to gravity the lightest of things must appear eventually. Air and mist feed a whole planet. All is light milled from density, containment and limit misconceived.

Thomas Martin

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